Sinister ForcesThe Manson Secret by Peter Levenda y Paul Krassner by Peter Levenda y Paul Krassner - Read Online
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The roots of coincidence and conspiracy in American politics, crime, and culture are investigated in this examination of the connections between religion, political conspiracy, and occultism. Readers are presented with detailed insight into how Charlie Manson became a national bogeyman as well as startling connections between Nobel Prizewinning physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Carl Jung, and synchronicity; serial killers, multiple personality disorder, and demonic possession; and magic, surrealism, and mind control. Not a work of speculative history, this third volume of a three-part set is founded on primary source material and historical documents. Fascinating secrets are divulged involving Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe, David Lynch, and Jane Fonda as well as links between the Cotton Club murders, the Bluegrass conspiracy, and the Son of Sam cult.

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Sinister Forces

A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft

Book Three:

The Manson Secret

Peter Levenda


Walterville, Oregon

Sinister Forces—A Grimoire Of American Political Witchcraft:

The Manson Secret

Copyright © 2006 Peter Levenda. All Rights Reserved.

Collage artwork©2006 TrineDay


PO Box 577

Walterville, OR 97489

Levenda, Peter

Sinister Forces—A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft: The Manson

Secret / Peter Levenda ; with forward by Paul Krassner — 1st ed.

p. cm.

ISBN 13—978-0-9841858-3-2 (acid-free paper)

(ISBN 13) 978-1-936296-79-8 (ISBN 10) 1-936296-79-9 SF3 EPUB

(ISBN 13) 978-1-936296-80-4 (ISBN 10) 1-936296-80-2 SF3 KINDLE

1. Political Corruption—United States. 2. Central Intelligence Agency

(CIA)—MK-ULTRA—Operation BLUEBIRD. 3. Behavior Modicfica-

tion—United States. 4. Occultism—United States—History. 5. Crime—Serial

Killers—Charles Manson—Son of Sam. 6. Secret Societies—United States.

1. Title


First Edition

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the USA

Distribution to the Trade By: Independent Publishers Group (IPG)

814 North Franklin Street

Chicago, Illinois 60610


For Judith McNally


The sinister is always the unintelligible, the impressive, the numinous. Wherever something divine appears, we begin to experience fear.

—Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig

Sinister Forces

Book three: The Manson Secret

Table of Contents

Foreword — Charlie’s Devils — by Paul Krassner .................................................. ix

Prologue ...................................................................................................................... xv

Section Five: Magic in Theory and Practice ...........................................1

Chapter Sixteen — Psycho...........................................................................................3

Chapter Seventeen — Voluntary Madness ............................................................ 61

Chapter Eighteen — Hollywood Babalon ........................................................... 109

Chapter Nineteen — An American Dream ..........................................................173

Chapter Twenty — Communion ............................................................................241

Chapter Twenty-One — The Machineries of Joy ............................................... 299

Section Six: Hungry Ghosts.................................................................355

Chapter Twenty-Two — Haunted House ............................................................. 357

Chapter Twenty-Three — The Manson Secret .................................................... 403

Epilogue ................................................................................................................... 443

Acknowledgments .................................................................................................... 449

Bibliography.............................................................................................................. 453

Index .......................................................................................................................... 473



by Paul Krassner

The history of civilization is the history of warfare between secret societies.

—Ishmael Reed

In 1971, I began to write an article, The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy, for my satirical magazine, The Realist. Then, in the course of my research, a strange thing happened. I learned of the actual involvement of Charles Manson with Scientology. In fact, there had been an E-Meter at the Spahn Ranch where his family stayed. Suddenly, I no longer had any reason to use Sirhan Sirhan as my protagonist. Reality will transcend allegory every time. So, although I had announced that I was going to publish that article, I started investigating the Manson case instead. Nevertheless, Scientology sued me for $750,000 for just those nine words— whoops, there goes the whole petty cash account—but I chose to fight them on 1st Amendment grounds, and they eventually dropped the suit.

I corresponded with Manson, visited his female killers in prison and—in a classic example of participatory journalism—took an acid trip with family members Squeaky Fromme and Sandra Good. Ed Sanders’ book, The Family, mentioned that Los Angeles police had discovered porn flicks in a loft at the crime scene, the home actress Sharon Tate shared with her director husband, Roman Polanski (in London at the time of the murders). And yet, the prosecutor in Manson’s trial, Vincent Bugliosi, denied in his book, Helter Skelter, that any porn flicks had been found. It was possible that the police had in fact uncovered them but lied to Bugliosi.

I learned why when I consulted San Francisco private investigator Hal Lipset, whose career had been the basis for The Conversation, starring Gene Hackman. Lipset informed me that not only did Los Angeles police seize porn movies and videotapes, but also that individual officers were selling them. He had talked with one police source who told him exactly which porn flicks were available—a total of seven hours’ worth for a quarter-million dollars. Lipset began reciting a litany of those porn videos. The most notorious was Greg Bautzer, an attorney for financier Howard Hughes, together with Jane Wyman, the former wife of then-Governor Ronald Reagan. There was Sharon Tate with Dean Martin. There was Sharon with Steve McQueen. There was Sharon with two black bisexual men.

"The cops weren’t too happy about that one," Lipset recalled.

There was reportedly a video of Cass Elliot from The Mamas and The Papas in an orgy with Yul Brynner, Peter Sellers and Warren Beatty. Coincidentally, Brynner and Sellers, together with John Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas, had offered a $25,000 reward for the capture of the killers. I always felt these executioners had a prior connection with their victims. I finally tracked down a reporter who had hung around with police and seen a porn video of Susan Atkins with one of her victims, Wojciech Frykowski. When I asked Manson about that, he responded: "You are ill advised and misled. [Victim Jay] Sebring done Susan’s hair and I think he sucked one or two of her dicks. I’m not sure who she was walking out from her stars and cages, that girl loves dick, you know what I mean, hon. Yul Brynner, Peter Sellers..."

Manson was abandoned by his mother and lived in various institutions after he was 8 years old. He learned early how to survive in captivity. When he was 14, he got arrested for stealing bread and was jailed. He was supposed to go to reform school, but instead went to Boys Town in Nebraska. He ran away from Boys Town and got arrested again, beginning his lifelong career

as a prison inmate, and meeting organized crime figures who became his role models—and future contacts. He tossed horseshoes with Frank Costello, hung out with Frankie Carbo, and learned how to play the guitar from Alvin Creepy Karpas. Eventually, he was introduced to Scientology by fellow prisoners while he was at McNeil Island Penitentiary. He needed less deconditioning than his cellmates, who had spent more time in the outside world. One of his teachers said that, with Scientology, Charlie’s ability to psych people out quickly was intensified so that he could zero in on their weaknesses and fears immediately. Thus, one more method was now stored in his manipulation tool chest.

When Manson was released in 1967, he went to the Scientology Center in San Francisco. Family member Little Paul Watkins, who accompanied him there, told me, "Charlie said to them, ‘I’m Clear’—what do I do now?’ But they expected him to sweep the floor. Shit, he had done that in prison. In Los Angeles, he went to the Scientology Celebrity Center. Now this was more like it. Here he could mingle with the elite. I managed to obtain a copy of the original log entry: 7/31/68, new name, Charlie Manson, Devt., No address, In for processing = Ethics = Type III. The receptionist—who, by Type III, meant psychotic"—sent him to the Ethics office, but he never showed up.

At the Spahn Ranch, Manson eclectically combined his version of Scientology auditing with post-hypnotic techniques he had learned in prison, with geographical isolation and subliminal motivation, with sing-along sessions and encounter games, with LSD and mescaline, with transactional analysis and brainwashing rituals, with verbal probing and the sexual longevity that he had practiced upon himself for all those years in the privacy of his cell. Ultimately, in August 1969, he sent members of his well-programmed family off to slay Sharon Tate and her unborn baby, hairstylist and dealer to the stars Jay Sebring, would-be screenwriter Wojciech Frykowski, and his girlfriend, coffee heiress Abigail Folger. Revenge for a drug deal gone sour.

Ed Sanders wrote, In the days before his death, Sebring had complained to a receptionist at his hair salon that someone had burned him for $2,000 worth of cocaine and he wanted vengeance. On Friday evening, just a few hours before the massacre took place, Joel Rostau—the boyfriend of Sebring’s receptionist and an intermediary in a cocaine ring—visited Sebring and Frykowski at the Tate house to deliver mescaline and coke. During the Manson trial, several associates of Sebring were murdered, including Rostau, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in New York.

The next night, Manson accompanied his followers to kill supermarket mogul Leno LaBianca and his wife. Ostensibly, they were selected at random, but a police report showed that LaBianca was a heavy gambler. He owed

$30,000 to Frankie Carbo’s organization. I asked Manson about a little black book he was supposed to get from LaBianca. He wrote back, The black book was what the CIA and a mob of market players had, Hollywood Park [race track] and numbers rackets to move in the Governor’s office legally.

Ed Sanders and I were on a panel at the University of Missouri, where he stated, "In the course of my research in Los Angeles, it became evident that Robert Kennedy was killed by a group of people including Sirhan Sirhan." In The Family, he had written, in reference to the Process Church, to which Manson had ties, It is possible that the Process had a baleful influence on Sirhan Sirhan, since Sirhan is known, in the spring of ’68, to have frequented clubs in Hollywood in occult pursuits. He has talked several times subsequent to Robert Kennedy’s death about an occult group from London which he knew about and which he really wanted to go to London to see.

Since the London-based Process Church had been an offshoot of Scientology, this looked like it could be a case of satirical prophecy. I was tempted to return to my original premise involving Sirhan, but it was too late. I had already become obsessed with my Manson research. I recalled that, in the summer of 1968, while the Yippies were planning for a Festival of Life at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, some zealots from the Process cult visited me in New York. They were hyper-anxious to meet Timothy Leary and kept pestering me for his phone number. The Process, founded by Scientology dropouts, first came to the U.S. from London in 1967. Members were called mind benders and proclaimed their dedication to the elimination of the grey forces.

In January 1968, they became the Process Church of the Final Judgment, a New Orleans-based religious corporation. They claimed to be in direct contact with both Jesus and Lucifer, and had wanted to be called the Church of the Process of Unification of Christ and Satan, but local officials presumably objected to their taking the name of Satan in vain. The Process struck me as a group of occult provocateurs, using radical Christianity as a front. They were adamantly interested in Yippie politics. They boasted to me of various rallies which their vibrations alone had transformed into riots. They implied that there was some kind of connection between the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and their own mere presence on the scene.

Bernard Fensterwald, head of the Committee to Investigate Assassinations, told me that Sirhan Sirhan had some involvement with the Process. Peter Chang, the district attorney of Santa Cruz, showed me a letter from a Los Angeles police official to the chief of police in San Jose, warning him that the Process had infiltrated biker gangs and hippie communes. And Ed Sanders wrote in Win (Workshop in Nonviolence) magazine, [W]ord came out of Los Angeles of a current FBI investigation of the RFK murder, the investigation growing, as the source put it, out of ‘the Manson case.’ Word came from another source, this one in the halls of Government itself, that several police and investigatory jurisdictions have information regarding other murders that may have been connected to the Robert Kennedy shooting: murders that occurred after RFK’s. A disturbing fact in this regard is that one agency in the Federal Bureaucracy (not the FBI) has stopped a multi-county investigation by its own officers that would have probed into such matters as the social and religious activities of Sirhan Sirhan in early ’68, and into the allegations regarding RFK-connected murders.

In 1972, Paulette Cooper, author of The Scandal of Scientology, put me in touch with Lee Cole, a former Scientologist who was now working with the Process Church. His role was to provide information on Scientology to the Process. I contacted him and flew to Chicago. We made an appointment to visit the Process headquarters. The Process men were dressed all in black, with large silver crosses hanging from their necks. They called each other Brother and they had German shepherds that seemed to be menacing. The Brothers tried to convince me that Scientology, not the Process, was responsible for creating Manson. But what else could I have expected?

Charles Manson’s real family consisted of con artists, pimps, drug dealers, thieves, muggers, rapists and murderers. He had known only power relationships within an army of control junkies. Charlie was America’s Frankenstein monster, a logical product of the prison system—racist, paranoid and violent—even if hippie astrologers thought that his fate had been predetermined because he was a triple Scorpio. A psychiatrist at San Quentin Prison told me of an incident he observed during Manson’s trial. A black inmate said to Manson, Look, I don’t wanna know about your theories on race, I don’t wanna hear anything about religion, I just wanna know one thing—how’d you get them girls to obey you like that? The reply: I got a knack.

Actually, Manson told me, I only picked up girls who had already been tossed away by society. And he would fill that void. After having lived behind bars most of his life, he ended up in the Haight-Ashbury area in the Summer of Love. Oh, those luscious runaways. And so he began to explore and exploit countercultural values.

I was gathering piece after piece of a mind-boggling jigsaw puzzle, without having any model to pattern it after. The evidence indicated that members of the Manson family had actually but unknowingly served as a hit-squad for a drug ring. Manson had instructed the girls to do whatever family member Tex Watson told them. When Manson was charged, Watson was also charged, but federal authorities held Watson in a Texas prison with no explanation—not even his own lawyers were allowed to see him—while Bugliosi prosecuted the Manson trial in California. In order to find Manson guilty, the jury had to be convinced that Charlie’s devils were zombies who followed his orders without question. In order to find Watson guilty, the jury had to be convinced that he was not a zombie and knew exactly what he was doing.

Conspiracy researcher Mae Brussell put me in contact with Preston Guillory, a former deputy sheriff, who told me, We had been briefed for a few weeks prior to the actual raiding of Spahn Ranch. We had a sheaf of memos on Manson, that they had automatic weapons at the ranch, that citizens had complained about hearing machine-guns fired at night, that firemen from the local fire station had been accosted by armed members of Manson’s band and told to get out of the area, all sorts of complaints like this. We had been advised to put anything relating to Manson on a memo submitted to the station, because they were supposedly gathering information for the raid we were going to make. Deputies at the station of course started asking, ‘Why aren’t we going to make the raid sooner?’ I mean, Manson’s a parole violator, machine-guns have been heard, we know there’s narcotics and we know there’s booze. He’s living at the Spahn Ranch with a bunch of minor girls in complete violation of his parole. Deputies at the station quite frankly became very annoyed that no action was being taken about Manson. My contention is this—the reason Manson was left on the street was because our department thought that he was going to attack the Black Panthers. We were getting intelligence briefings that Manson was anti-black and he had supposedly killed a Black Panther, the body of which could not be found, and the department thought that he was going to launch an attack on the Black Panthers....

If that’s true, then it was racism in the Sheriff ’s Department which turned law enforcers into unintentional collaborators in a mass murder. But what if there was some other, deeper reason? Guillory told me, Before the Tate killings, [Manson] had been arrested at Malibu twice for statutory rape. Never got [imprisoned for parole violation]. Manson liked to ball young girls, so he just did his thing and he was released, and they didn’t put any parole hold on him. But somebody very high up was controlling everything that was going on and was seeing to it that we didn’t bust Manson. And, in this third book of the Sinister Forces trilogy, Peter Levenda presents the historical context for an underlying scenario which could well provide that missing link. For a quarter-century, he has diligently researched political witchcraft in the United States, culminating in what he calls the Manson Secret.

Meanwhile, Charlie has become a cultural symbol. In surfer jargon, a manson is a crazy, reckless surfer. For comedians, Manson has become a generic joke reference. I asked him how he felt about that. He wrote back: I don’t know what a generic is, Joke. I think I know what that means. That means you talk bad about Reagan or Bush. I’ve always ran poker games and whores and crime. I’m a crook. You make the reality in court and press. I just ride and play the cards that were pushed on me to play. Mass killer, it’s a job, what can I say.

—Paul Krassner is the author of One Hand Jerking: Reports From an Investigative Satirist; he publishes The Disneyland Memorial Orgy at paulkrassner. com.


February – September 2003

Kuala Lumpur

God is great; there is no God but God, and Mohammad is his prophet. The speaker-amplified cry of the muezzin echoes off the tall buildings around the park. It should be an auspicious ending. Auspicious, not suspicious. But with the subject matter and the time of night and the thrumming nervousness of the streets it is too tempting to be anything but suspicious. Even God is a suspect now. God most of all.

I started this when I was not yet twenty-five years old. I am now fifty-two. It is impossible to communicate what this means in terms of a single project, especially a writing project that takes place in solitude with all the wings of life flapping around me, beating at my windows, noisy and oblivious to my daily anxieties and dreads, my occasional attack of euphoria and self-congratulation over a well-written line or a fortuitous discovery. There is a thin line that separates solitude from loneliness, and I cross it every day and sometimes even in my sleep.

During the years I worked on this book, I also worked in the world, like a Sufi, in the world but not of it, or so it would seem to most people. Yet, I managed to develop lines of business for American and European companies abroad, lived and worked in Asia for many years, was responsible for expense budgets that exceeded ten million dollars and for sales that nudged one hundred million, spread over five continents and thirty countries. This type of multiple personality disorder is common among Americans, and is endemic among New Yorkers: this shadow life running parallel and sometimes perpendicular to the daily life of mortgages and credit card bills, a child’s education and doctor’s visits. Yet, through it all, I have not succumbed to drink or drugs or institutionalized madness, and for this I am grateful.

I keep a bottle of Absolut in the freezer, however, and I drink some now, the colored lights of the city outside my window twinkling like acid-dream fireflies in the tropical night. I am alone. The files are stacked on the floor, the dining-room table, the chairs all around me. Outside, incongruously, the sing-song warble of the muezzin calls the Muslim faithful to prayer. Inside the mosque, dozens of barefoot, sarong-clad men kneel, facing Mecca and its ancient lump of meteoric rock, and bow, surrendering themselves to God. God will protect them from evil, from demons, from unclean thoughts, from Western decadence, from American imperialism and currency speculators. From Ibliss and Shaitan and all the Islamic demons. Ein feste Burg, Luther would have said. A mighty fortress is our God.

But my demons will not leave me alone. Their traces are everywhere around me, but mostly on paper, in the files. And in my head. I can feel them, whistling through cranial corridors, taunting the prisoners I have chained in there and tried to forget, tormenting me with memories. With dreams. With morgue photographs. Autopsy reports. Lists of dead names. A political Necronomicon.

I light a candle, the flame flickers. It glints, winking like an evil eye, off the wavy blade of the kriss I keep near my bedside. I also need protection tonight, from what I do not know and cannot name. Only feel.

Unknown to me and to the world at large, Al Qaeda operatives met not far from my apartment and began the plotting for the September 11 attack. It was a critical moment in history, this meeting; pivotal, some in the intelligence community have said. And it happened in darkness, in the shadows. Two lives running parallel to each other, one in the daylight of the mosque and the loudspeaker prayers, and the other at night in an apartment full of the mutterings of bombers and saboteurs, like muffled oars.

While I dug and dug, mining data and researching through every type of material in an effort to disinter the sinister forces that lie dead but dreaming beneath the American political landscape, events were in progress to change the world forever. Fundamentalist Islamic militants were preparing to bring the war home, as we used to say in the 1960s, and launch an attack on the very American landscape I was writing about. And they played right into the hands of their enemies. It was all a Republican administration needed in order to launch the twenty-first century equivalent of an Inquisition at home, and a Crusade abroad.

But I did not know this at the time. All I felt was the foreboding, the sense of impending doom, and I attributed this to my research and my unhealthy concentration on evil, on mental disorders, on murder and assassination and magic.

The files. Thirty years of hunting and searching. Mistakes. Missteps. False starts. Foul matter. I was a thin, nervous, sickly youth when I started. Bespectacled and academic. Solitary and anxious. I was not the type to have guns pointed at me, to have my life threatened by soldiers, spies. Not because I was good, or even innocent. But because I was not a soldier, not an intelligence agency cowboy strapped with an Ingram Mach-10 and a get out of jail free card. I was a reader. A writer. The passive-aggressive type. I asked questions. Terrorists don’t have questions, only answers.

But in the last thirty years I have been stalked, surveilled, photographed, searched, researched, detained and denounced by a variety of agencies and individuals, in a number of countries, and for various reasons. I guess I have a problem with authority. But in my defense I have to say that pure research—of the academic variety—is bloodless. Worse, it is dishonest. Historians are cheats, like crooked accountants cooking the books. They manipulate data and create fiction in the guise of gospel. To get the taste and smell and feel of history, you have to get your hands dirty.

Or wet.

The vodka is ice-cold and flows like syrup, the way it is supposed to. The way it did in Moscow in 1996, when I visited the Metropole Hotel and Dzherzinsky Square and the Lubyanka with a former member of the former KGB. A pilgrimage of sorts, shrines to espionage and assassination legend. Outside, now, the temperature is mild for this time of year, for this tropical place. Standing in my window, backlit by my apartment lights, I can gaze out to my right and my left and see rain forest in the distance. Jungle. But straight ahead, behind the mosque and the Citibank building, stand the tallest buildings in the world.

I’m wasting time. Procrastinating. The files—like the grimoires, the workbooks of the medieval sorcerers—sit patiently inside, full of blood and secrets. Fat toads, fed on flies and their maggoty children.

Darwin Scott. Stabbed nineteen times with a kitchen knife. Charles Manson’s uncle, murdered a few months before the Tate and LaBianca slayings.

Frank Olson. Falls ten floors to his death outside a New York City hotel room, his CIA handler standing at the window, looking down, making a phone call.

Donna Lauria. Shot to death in New York City. The Son of Sam saga begins.

Sharon Tate. Pregnant. Stabbed to death.

Nancy Warren. Pregnant. Beaten and strangled to death.

Marina Habe. Abducted, raped and murdered on New Year’s Eve.

Michael Prokes. Suicide. Immediately before he takes his life, he holds a press conference claiming the CIA was withholding an audio tape made during the Jonestown massacre.

Michael Carr. Automobile crash on the West Side Highway. A Son of Sam cleanup operation?

Drucilla Carr. Suicide.

Howard Green and Carol Marron. Dead in New Jersey. Their bodies found drained of blood.

Dorothy Blackburn. Murdered. Body found in upstate New York.

The Arthur Shawcross murders begin.

Joel Dean Pugh. Both wrists and throat slashed. Death ruled a


Steve Brandt. Gossip columnist. Close friend of Sharon Tate.

Afraid for his life after the Manson killings, he flees to New York City. Suicide. Months later, I begin working for his father.

Charlene Caffritz. Had secret Manson videotapes. Suicide by drug overdose.

Joel Rostau. Murdered in New York City.

Ronald Hughes. Manson defense attorney. Murdered.

Laurence Merrick. Manson filmmaker. Murdered.

The names of the victims go on and on.

From Black Dahlias to Red Dragons. From stabbings, to shootings, to subtle poisonings and suspicious suicides. The blood of these victims stains the black and white pages, and the black and white American soul. I did not come to Malaysia only to wind up as the caretaker of these hideous memories, these dead and staring eyes, these voiceless corpses. But I can hear the clank of the sliding trays in the morgues back in the States and the dull hiss of the minds gone … awry. This is the hand I fear most, the hand behind these outrages, several and satanic, for it is one hand and not many that I see, a single nightmare, an epistemological singularity, evil in its finest—most finely-woven, most sub-atomic—form.

The Muslims have finished praying. They walk to their cars. The women in veils called tudung, the men in those narrow, dark, brimless caps called songkok, made famous by news photos of Sukarno back in the 1960s, in the Year of Living Dangerously. The Malaysian Prime Minister, beleaguered on all sides by the Asian economic crisis of 1997-99, blamed his country’s decline on international Jewish bankers and other, unnamed, sinister forces. Sinister forces. A blast from the past. Our past.

It’s all in the files.

Here, photographs of the mass graves at Auschwitz. Here, photographs of Catholic monks and priests, monsignors and bishops, reviewing the Nazi troops marching through small towns in Croatia.

There, crime scene shots in California, New York, Mexico, Texas … there, declassified documents coyly hinting at monstrous deeds committed by government officials; there, the arrogant testimony of colonels, crusaders, and Company shrinks.

I walk over to the windows, but am afraid to look up, worried that the hand will strike from there as easily as from a cluttered government office cubicle or a slowly cruising Lincoln Continental. MacArthur was afraid to look up. Hillenkoetter was afraid to look up. Who am I to second-guess these men? Generals and admirals, men with the stink of blood on their hands from the defense of America in time of war; men who sent boys off to the jungles of Asia to fight the Japanese, or commanded naval convoys where flames burned the water in some kind of alchemical allegory, to the deranged counterpoint of screams. This is the hard math of life and death, the calculus of survival. War makes us all scientists for a time. And these men—these military commanders with ribbons and medals who saw tens of thousands march into battle or sail into holocaust, who ordered planes and bombs and all our technology into the feverish, frenzied air—feared space, and the threat of alien, sinister forces from above.

Daylight is worrying the edges of the Asian night. The files are open, tossed, backs broken, pages marked. The connective tissue to all of this is here. Strong. Unbreakable. Strings of connections that weave fatal chains whose links laugh at canned history, at consensus reality. In the bookstores in Kuala Lumpur and on the newsstands, you can buy copies of our own, red-blooded American hero Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic tract, The International Jew, published by some white supremacist, no-name press in South Africa.

And so it goes.



The strange behavior of future shamans has not failed to attract the attention of scholars, and from the middle of the past century several attempts have been made to explain the phenomenon of shamanism as a mental disorder. But the problem was wrongly put. For, on the one hand, it is not true that shamans always are or always have to be neuropathics; on the other hand, those among them who had been ill became shamans precisely because they had succeeded in becoming cured.

—Mircea Eliade¹

To add confessional uniformity to institutional centralization—to control minds as well as bodies—was an understandable ambition of governments, and the pursuit of spiritual dissidents in the courts could be its practical outcome. Control of political loyalties was, after all, felt to rest on control of denominational ones.

—Stuart Clark²

… beneath the open surface of our society lie connections and relationships of long standing, virtually immune to disclosure, and capable of great crimes, including serial murder.… These forces are still with us, and they are not benign.

—Peter Dale Scott³

Magick is a faculty of wonderfull vertue, full of most high mysteries, containing the most profound Contemplation of most secret things, together with the nature, power, quality, substance, and vertues thereof, as also the knowledge of whole nature, and it doth instruct us concerning the differing, and agreement of things amongst themselves, whence it produceth its wonderfull effects, by uniting the vertues of things through the application of them one to the other, and to their inferior suitable subjects, joyning and knitting them together thoroughly by the powers, and vertues of the superior Bodies.

—Cornelius Agrippa, First Book of Occult Philosophy, Chapter II

Scenes from the 1931 film, M, Fritz Lang's first sound presentation, and the first movie ever made about a serial killer. It was based on child-killer and axe-murderer Peter Kuerten, the Vampire of Duesseldorf, of whom Mr. had read in the The Nazis banned the film in 1934.

¹ Mircea Eliade, Rites and Symbols of Initiation, Harper Torchbooks, NY, 1965, p. 88

² Stuart Clark, Thinking With Demons: The Idea of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999, p. 554

³ Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1996, p. 17 and 21



I was going to show you how a soul with a weak hold on its tenant could be expelled by another; how, indeed, half-a-dozen personalities could take turns to live in one body. That they are real, independent souls is shown by the fact that not only do the contents of the mind differ—which might conceivably be a fake—but their handwritings, their voices, and that in ways which are quite beyond anything we know in the way of conscious simulation, or even possible simulation.

These personalities are constant quantities; they depart and return unchanged. It is then sure that they do not exist merely by manifestation; they need no body for existence.

—Aleister Crowley¹

Osiris married his sister Isis and succeeded Ra as king of the earth. However, his brother Set hated him. Set killed Osiris, cut him into many pieces, and scattered the fragments over a wide area.

Isis gathered up the fragments, embalmed them, and resurrected Osiris as king of the nether world, king of the land of the dead.… Isis and Osiris had a son, Horus, who defeated Set in battle and became king of the earth. Thus in this myth we see the fragmentation, death, healing, and resurrection of the self in a new form. This is the cycle through which the successfully treated DID (dissociative identity disorder) patient must pass.

—Colin A. Ross²

To me, black and white films from the early days of cinema have always seemed somewhat … existential. Something to do with film noir, I suppose. One is forced to concentrate more on the story being told, the characterizations, camera angles, etc., as if searching for a hidden meaning. Since there is no color, the shadings are all done with light and darkness, with strips of shadow and sharp, cutting edges: like some kind of Zoroastrian struggle taking place, frame by frame.

This is especially true, I think, of Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, M.

This is Lang’s first sound film, and it is also the first film ever made about a serial killer. Though released in 1931, its issues are strikingly modern and relevant. The film could have been made yesterday, and it humbles us to realize that people agonized over the same moral and legal issues in Weimar Berlin as they do in twenty-first century New York. Briefly, the story is this:

A series of child abductions and murders is taking place in a city in Germany. Little girls are being seduced by gifts of candy and balloons, their bodies sometimes found, sometimes not, a little while later. Details of the crimes are not given, but we are meant to understand that they are hideous. The killer is sending letters to the police and the newspapers, taunting them. The letters are being analyzed by police graphologists in what is perhaps the first instance on film of profiling.

We know the identity of the killer from the beginning. It is a man named Beckert who is played to perfection by a young Peter Lorre, a Hungarian actor who at the time was also working on a Brecht piece (and similarities between the Lang film and Brecht’s work have been noted before). Lorre would rise to prominence in American films later in his career—notably Casablanca, Passage to Marseilles, etc.—and his pop eyes and strange, lisping voice would become the mainstay of cartoon villains for decades to come.

Beckert has a nervous habit of whistling a melody from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, and that is how he is eventually identified, by a group of street criminals who want to stop the intense pressure being put on their illegal businesses by the police who are turning the city—and the underworld—inside out in their search for the murderer. Thus, we have both the police and the criminal organizations looking for the killer, the criminals somewhat more successful in that they do not have to rely on the niceties of search and seizure laws to conduct their sweep of the city. That Beckert is eventually captured is a foregone conclusion; what is fascinating is how the killer describes the uncontrollable compulsion that leads him to murder, the fact that he cannot remember the murders themselves, and the struggle of society over what to do with a man who is an involuntary killer, a man who cannot be held responsible for his actions. The discussion of how the murderer—if brought to the police—would probably get off with a not guilty by reason of insanity plea and be free to walk the streets and kill more little girls is so contemporary that we are shocked into a realization that this conundrum has been going on, continuously and unresolved, since at least that time.

The term serial killer is not used, as that phrase was developed in America fifty years after the release of the film; yet the pattern of murders, amnesia, the killer’s taunting letters to the police, etc. are identical to those with which we are now familiar from both real-life instances of serial murder as well as the more fanciful treatments by Hollywood.

Is the serial killer a metaphor for something deeper? The Fritz Lang film stops well short of the type of mythologizing of, say, The Silence of the Lambs. The 1931 film treats the murderer as a human being suffering from a serious sickness—perhaps mental, perhaps spiritual—that renders him unfit for human society and which puts both the police and the criminal organizations into counterpoint against a case of real criminality: we are forced to admit that perhaps the common criminal is simply the mirror image of a policeman, whereas the serial killer is beyond all comparison with normal human activity, legal or illegal.

Modern writers like Thomas Harris (who created the unforgettable Hannibal Lecter) have taken this idea one step further: if the serial killer is indeed outside the normal realm of human behavior, then—on an existential level—what does he represent? By comparing the bizarre actions and beliefs of a serial killer to those of cannibals, primitive shamans, etc., we are drawn to the conclusion that these extreme cases of human behavior—eating human flesh, becoming possessed by spiritual forces—point the way to a different view of society, and of reality itself. Thomas Harris’ killers are seeking transformation: either spiritual or psychological transformation or actual physical change. They use murder, torture, and pain as means to this end. In this they are no different from organized killing societies such as the SS, for Hitler himself believed he was using the Nazi Party to create a new man.

This almost visceral urge to evolve into something different, something other, may indeed be the manifestation of a genetic impulse. Transformation is a theme of many ancient spiritual practices, from the Siberian shaman changing himself into an animal to the dead Egyptian Pharoah becoming a god, to the transformative rites of the Catholic Mass, to the intense ecstatic rituals of Haitian voudon in which the devotee is temporarily possessed by a god and behaves accordingly. Ancient religion and primitive religion are obsessed by the idea of personal transformation; it is only in the richer and more developed countries that this concept is forgotten as people desperately try to hold on to the status quo. They suddenly have a lot to lose if they become something … other.

Thus, the mythology of the serial killer is a warning, perhaps, that this urge is not to be ignored because otherwise it will manifest in very dangerous, very unhealthy ways. And should the reader believe that this mythology is a fabrication of novelists and Hollywood scriptwriters, let us examine the myths of some of America’s most famous serial murderers to see how deeply religious concepts and iconography adorned their chambers of horrors.


Before we delve directly into the shamanistic and initiatory aspects of some celebrated serial murderers, let us define our terms. We will discuss the religio-occult terms as we come across them, but for now we should focus on what mainstream psychiatry thinks about such things as multiple personality disorder (MPD), dissociative identity disorder (DID), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the whole field of acute mental illness in general. In order to do this, we must consult that bible of the psychiatric profession, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: Mental Disorders, more commonly referred to as DSM.

The first edition of the DSM was not published until 1951, following a period of confusion and disorganization in the profession that began in the 1920s, when efforts were undertaken to create an international Standard Nomenclature of Disease. Various attempts at codifying mental illness by adopting a specific vocabulary were attempted—with varying degrees of success—throughout the 1930s. All of this changed with the onset of World War II. Many readers may be surprised to learn that the celebrated DSM is actually the result of an American military mission to provide a comprehensive classification system of mental disease. As the war broke out, psychiatrists realized, There was a need to account accurately for all causes of morbidity, hence the need for a suitable diagnosis for every case seen by the psychiatrist, a situation not faced in civilian life. Only about 10% of the total cases seen fell into any of the categories ordinarily seen in public mental hospitals. Military psychiatrists, induction station psychiatrists, and Veterans Administration psychiatrists, found themselves operating within the limits of a nomenclature specifically not designed for 90% of the cases handled. ³In other words, ninety percent of the mental illness cases encountered by the military fell outside the normal run of what was experienced in a civilian setting. As an example:

Relatively minor personality disturbances, which became of importance only in the military setting, had to be classified as, Psychopathic Personality.

(We may be forgiven if we suggest, therefore, that perhaps some of what we have come to know as mental illnesses are in actuality mental states or conditions not conducive to following orders, marching in lockstep, and blowing someone’s brains out.)

The Navy then began to develop its own classification system in 1944, and the Army came up with its own version in 1945, a version that eventually became the one used by the Veterans Administration in 1946. However, by 1948 there were at least three nomenclatures (Standard, Armed Forces, and Veterans Administration) in general use, none of which agreed completely with the new International Statistical Classification.⁵ What happened next seems dull and unexceptional, except perhaps to a Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) or maybe a Blatty (Twinkle, Twinkle Killer Kane). To quote once again from the very first edition of the DSM:

Following the adoption of new nomenclatures by the Army and Veterans Administration, the Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics of the American Psychiatric Association postponed change in its recommended official nomenclature pending some evidence as to the usability of the new systems. In 1948, the Committee undertook to learn from the Army and Veterans Administration how successful the changes had been …

In other words, the American military was guiding the American Psychiatric Association in the creation of what would become the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual: Mental Disorders.

Many Americans know—or are dimly aware—that the excellent interstate highway system in the United States is the result of a Defense Department initiative, designed to enable motorized armor to move swiftly from one area of the country to another in the event of an attack or evacuation. What many Americans do not know is the extent to which the Army and the Navy contributed to other aspects of American life that we take for granted, such as for example the classification of mental disease.

There were many other details to arrange; the consideration of a proper place for the operation gave rise to much mental labour. It is, generally speaking, desirable to choose the locality of a recent battle; and the greater the number of slain the better. (There should be some very desirable spots in the vicinity of Verdun for black magicians who happen to flourish after the vulgar year 1917).

—Aleister Crowley, Moonchild

Shell shock was a common concept among the medical profession during World War I. Some of our more famous psychiatrists—such as William Sargant, mentioned in Books I and II in the context of his relationship to Dr. Frank Olson—cut their eye teeth on treating shell shock in World War I veterans. They used everything from drugs to hypnosis to analysis in an effort to ease the suffering of these mentally-wounded soldiers. In fact, Andre Breton—the celebrated eminence gris of the Surrealist movement—worked in the same capacity, treating shell shock victims with such occult techniques as automatic writing. (We will examine the Surrealists in more detail in a later chapter.)

Another celebrated therapist of the First War was one W.H.R. Rivers, who exerted considerable influence over the lives and thought of such important individuals of the time as the poet Siegfried Sassoon and the poet, novelist and mythologian Robert Graves (who was also a confidant of Sargant, another therapist who specialized in shell shock and the application of psychotherapy in a military setting). Rivers had spent some time studying the enigmatic Toda tribe of India, a strange ethnic group that seems to trace their origins to the ancient Middle East, including—according to some observers—ancient Sumeria. Rivers treated Sassoon at a military hospital for shell shock (or, as it seemed to some critics, malingering) and began to derive a philosophy of the mind from the experience as well as from his background in ethnology and the study of primitive cultures.

In a lecture given after the War, he had this to say about the relationship between mental illness and combat:

Perhaps the most striking feature of the war from the medical point of view has been the enormous scale upon which its conditions have produced functional nervous disorders, a scale far surpassing any previous war, although the Russo-Japanese campaign gave indications of the mental and nervous havoc which the conditions of modern warfare are able to produce.

—W. H. R. Rivers to the John Rylands Library, April 9, 1919

This idea that modern warfare contributes to a serious rise in mental disorders is one that would influence William Sargant and others following in the footsteps of the great therapists of the first decades of the twentieth century. Rivers would devote a great deal of his time towards an understanding of the relationship between Medicine, Magic and Religion (as a collection of his essays is entitled), looking for a solution to the problem of the mind-body dichotomy. This, of course, is the bedrock of what would become the mindcontrol programs of the Americans, the Soviets, the Chinese and others, although Rivers—a humanitarian and idealist—would presumably have been horrified to see his insights result in such experimentation.

As World War I became World War II—and shell shock became battle fatigue—military authorities were under pressure to counter the growing incidence of soldiers unfit for combat due to mental disturbances. This situation became quite severe during the Korean War, when a new wrinkle—brainwashing—was added to the mix. In November 1951—the height of the Korean conflict—the very first edition of the DSM was finalized.

By the time we were coming out of the Vietnam War, the DSM had gone through several editions. Battle fatigue had become institutionalized as post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, in DSM-III. And suddenly the era of the crazed Vietnam veteran was upon us, introducing a new breed of menace in American streets: the lonely, alienated warrior who had seen and experienced too much in the Southeast Asian jungles, had taken too many drugs, had killed too many people, had learned loyalty and sacrifice under fire only to see these values mocked by his Stateside friends and family. He hallucinates, has flashbacks of the jungle, cannot relate to his wife or girlfriend, and winds up wandering the streets at night, stoned, armed, and believing he is back in the jungle. A killing machine. A powder keg ready to explode.

It was an urban myth to a certain extent, of course, pumped up and exploited by the media in novels, movies, and television shows, but it was a short slide from the crazed Vietnam veteran to a particular refinement of the archetype in the more robust serial killer. With the serial killer, we forgot all about the crazed Vietnam vets and began worrying about the quiet, softspoken, socially inept young white man next door with the foul body odor, the rotting teeth, the uneducated English, and the basement full of corpses. It was a pop-culture segue from the Age of Manson to the Age of Lucas, Dahmer, Gacey, and Bundy. Manson had a retinue of young women and men to carry out his bizarre plans; the serial killers worked alone, or in pairs. They derived pleasure from committing the acts directly, themselves, and would never have dreamed of farming out the work to a Family. The body count of a single serial killer such as Dahmer or Gacey would be far greater than that of a Manson. And what’s more, they were solo acts.

For some reason, the serial killer captured the American imagination. Murder has always been interesting to people, but usually in the slightlyclaustrophobic and socially-refined venue of the detective story. The stories of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Edgar Allan Poe (the father of the detective story) defined our notion of how to handle the grotesque and the morbid: we have brilliant amateurs who trace minute specs of evidence or apply an unassailable logic to the conditions of the crime to identify and apprehend the perpetrator. They are crimes solved by science and logic tables.

With the serial killer, however, we enter the world of the motiveless crime, a world where the abilities of a Sherlock Holmes or a Miss Marple would shatter like a stained glass window in the rays of a hideous insanity, a lust for blood, a ritualistic slashing of the carving knife. We are desperate to understand the serial killer, finding in him a fascinating and compelling introduction to the dark corners and fetid basements of our own troubled psyches. And, just as Freud sought to understand the human mind by examining its pathologies, we come to understand not only the substance of our own souls by studying the serial killer but—as authors of serial killer fiction such as Thomas Harris have implied—also the possibilities of our transformation. We seek, in the blood and madness and gore of the serial killer’s frenzied occupation, the rites of the shaman, the illumination of the magician, the ecstatic trance of the medium, the possession by a god.

The hallmark American film which sensationalized the serial killer was Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho (1960). It was based, loosely, on the case of a genuine serial killer, Ed Gein, who murdered women and saved their skin to sew together as garments, creating a kind of woman suit that he could wear. The character of Norman Bates—played by Anthony Perkins—is in the grip of what would come to be known as multiple personality disorder (MPD). He is sometimes Norman Bates, and sometimes his abusive (and dead) mother. The idea that Norman grew up in a physically-abusive household which molded his personality—or, to be more precise, dissociated his personality—is hinted at in the film but not emphasized. It is Norman’s own insanity that confronts us, not that of his mother.

As the psychiatric profession developed its theories of personality disorders, it abandoned the concept of multiple personalities to embrace one of dissociated personalities, i.e., taking the philosophical stance that there is only one personality allowed per human being but that it can, at times, become dissociated: splinter into several parts, as it were. Whatever name we give it (and some psychiatrists are not happy with the dissociative identity disorder—DID—classification and retain MPD as their preferred nomenclature), the disorder is easily confused with what our ancestors thought of as demonic possession, for in a case of DID the personality undergoes a profound change, sometimes even in front of the therapist. The patient will speak in a different voice, perhaps that of a different sex, different age group, act differently, use a different vocabulary and present differently from the other personality or personalities. Each personality may remember what has happened to the other personalities, or more usually may not. This type of amnesia is common in cases of DID, and was of intense interest to the CIA scientists of MK-ULTRA.

Yet, involved with the already heady experience of dealing with a serial killer who may be suffering from DID, we also have—in the fictional case of Psycho but also in the actual case of Ed Gein—the concept of transformation.

This idea that one can transform oneself spiritually (or physically) through murder and mutilation was explored by novelist Thomas Harris in his famous The Silence of the Lambs, since made into a film (1991) starring Jodie Foster as FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In this story, the serial killer is a virtual Ed Gein, capturing women and starving them so that their skin would become loose on their bodies, and then killing them and removing the skin. His goal—after being turned down by several sex-change clinics—was to become a woman, and to do this he would don a woman’s actual skin, or a skin suit composed of pieces of various women.

That this smacks of pure lycanthropy, as practiced by shamanistic cults the world over, albeit with animal skins, usually goes unnoticed. Yet, to further drive home his message, Harris has his serial killer insert the larva of a specific type of moth into the mouths of his victims when he dumps their bodies. The moth, of course, is a symbol of transformation. The mythology is carefully worked out and, it must be said, beyond the imagination and creativity of most serial killers one comes across in the news. That does not mean, however, that the genuine serial killer is not (subconsciously at least) seeking transformation. But we must ask ourselves, Is transformation a code word for psychic integration? Or does it mean something more?


A favorite topic in the underground press is the concept that some serial killers are the victims of a government mind-control project run amok. With the Rockefeller Commission investigations in the 1970s and the subsequent revelation that the United States had carried out a number of experiments on violent offenders—dosing them with enormous amounts of LSD, for instance—one comes to the natural conclusion that the experience must have made a deep and serious impact on the already fragile psyches of these dangerous felons. Did they get religion? Did they become mystics, eschewing their former lives of murder and rape, under the benign energy flowing into their souls from the kindly government medical men in their white robes and insincere smiles, hypodermic syringes raised to the heavens? Or, as is more likely, did the intense psychological pressure of the massive dosage of hallucinogens force some other, less savory, response of these men in prison cells and iron shackles? Unfortunately, we shall never know. The files have been destroyed. We don’t even know their names. We don’t know what streets they wander, or what diseased daydreams occupy them as they gaze upon the rest of us in their madness.

As we saw in Book II, Congressman Leo Ryan believed that the leadership of the Symbionese Liberation Army might have been victims of an MK-ULTRA program during their incarceration at Vacaville prior to their assault on California banks and the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Congressman Ryan would be murdered in the presence of the local CIA resident only a few months after he made his inquiries of the CIA.

A more pressing case before us, however, is that of convicted serial killer Arthur Shawcross. In Shawcross we have all the elements of a paranoid fantasy that even Hollywood would find a hard time digesting. A Vietnam veteran, child molester, rapist, and murderer who is set free only to kill again. A man who claimed a history of violent encounters in Vietnam … but whose official Army records deny any substance to the stories. A man whose brain shows evidence of surgical intervention, but whose Army medical records were classified and not permitted to be reviewed by his own defense team. A man who claimed he heard voices, haunted by ghosts no one else could see.

A common defense for serial murder—entertained, if not actually implemented at trial—is the insanity plea. We will look at that more closely a little later, but for now it is enough to know that this plea (with its origins in nineteenth century British jurisprudence) is honored more in the breach than in the observance. The insanity plea is rarely used, not quite so often as Hollywood would have us believe, but it is a tantalizing plea nevertheless. As in the Fritz Lang film mentioned above, society seems to realize that there exists in the world the involuntary killer, the man (or sometimes the woman) driven to kill by uncontrollable impulses; a man who is not whole, or not wholly human. A man who cannot be held accountable for his crimes.

A traditional tactic of the defense attorney—and defense psychiatrist—in attempting to convince a judge and jury of the insanity of their client is to demonstrate the existence of some kind of organic mental illness, something that can be proven in the laboratory: a chemical imbalance, say, or severe brain damage. Perhaps a tumor, or lesions in the temporal lobe. Many of our most famous serial killers have, indeed, such a medical history. Bobby Joe Long of Kenova, West Virginia had been hit on the head as a child, beaten with an iron pipe. The damage was severe, and could be seen in X-rays of his head. He also had a demonstrable chemical imbalance and all sorts of hormonal problems. Bobby Joe Long had to have sex many times during the day, and when no sexual partner was available he resorted to constant masturbation. Eventually, he became known as the Want-Ad Rapist in southern Florida, a man responsible for the rape and murder of many young women. Incidentally, Long served some time in the US Army before being discharged due to his peculiar personal habits and his violence towards authority.

When the mental disorder is not organic, it is not uncommon for the defense to wonder if their client is the victim of multiple personalities, the Dissociated Identity Disorder of the DSM-IV. In the case of a true multiple, the perpetrator of the crime is only one of the many personalities inhabiting the defendant. The others may have no knowledge at all that a murder has been committed, much less that they are actually responsible. They have total amnesia of the event, and only the personality who actually committed the murder will know anything about it. This, of course, is exactly what the CIA wanted to achieve in the MK-ULTRA experiments.

What many casual observers do not realize is that the not guilty by reason of insanity defense was, itself, originally a politically-motivated one. Like the DSM, and so much else in American science and psychiatry, it had its origins in politics.


Some criminals in the United States and in other countries have managed to escape a harsh penalty—death or life imprisonment—due to this strange, even profound, concept. It is understood that moral responsibility and madness do not mix; therefore, the insane can only be hospitalized and not penalized. Readers may be forgiven if they believe that insanity is a clinical term, a medical designation. It is not. It is a legal term, and pretends to describe a state of mind in which the accused is unaware of the difference between right and wrong and therefore incapable of making moral choices. There is even a special subset of this condition, known as temporary insanity, in which the accused was in this state of mind only during the time necessary to commit the crime and was remarkably sane later. In this latter case, there

is no need for either hospitalization or prison; the accused often walks.

In Malaysia, a particularly